Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Slowly Learning When Not to Run

If misery loves company, then it really is a shame that I ran alone yesterday.

Misery? Ran? Wait a minute.  What happened to the lady who said she would never regret a run?  You know, the one whose last post on this very blog was titled Cold and Contentment?  Who waxed pseudo-poetic on the virtues of winter running?  Well, I will tell you what happened to her.  She had a crappy run.  Yes, me.  Well, it happens, right?  I guess it can't all be chocolate and roses, puppies and sprinkles on strawberry ice cream cones.  Yada, yada, yada...

So, what happened?

Well, it all started Sunday actually, the day I was supposed to do my long run.  Sixteen miles were on the schedule and I was so excited by that that I woke up running to the bathroom to express my joy.  Not really.  In reality, I had a touch of a stomach bug, or was reacting to something I ate, or who knows what.  What I did know (and thankfully recognized soon after waking) was that I didn't want to have anything to do with 16 miles on the open road with no toilet in sight.  The old me - before trying to relax about things - would have panicked, thrown my hands up in the air, torn my hair out and bemoaned the fact that my training plan was RUINED.  The new me - the one who is trying to relax a bit more - didn't panic.  Instead, I just threw my hands up in the air, tore a couple of token hairs out, and bemoaned the fact that I couldn't run....but I didn't worry about the training plan so much.  Instead I decided I could at least walk a bit on the treadmill and then push my long run to Tuesday, which was the next available day to run.

Fast forward two days.  Tuesday arrived in all its glory only to find that my stomach STILL hadn't settled down 100 percent.  However, by then I was tired of waiting around.  So, I decided I would take my chances, suck it up, and try to get in at least 14 miles.  The problem was that it was cold, and I was tired, and really - in my heart of hearts - I really just didn't feel like running.  Did I listen to my heart of hearts, though?  No.  I did what most of us would do and I sucked it up, bundled up, and headed outside.  I thought to myself I would just take it slow.  I had all day to finish up 14 miles.  There was no rush, just enjoy it.  Little did I know that all day to finish 14 miles would not have been too far off.

I didn't enjoy it.  Not very much of it anyway.  Every single run I have done outside since being back from Florida has been in crappy footing, and this was by far the worst day of it.  (And, I am getting tired of it!  I mean, I love winter running, but I don't want to fight for every step I take!)  We had had a very slight snowfall overnight.  It wasn't much to look at, but it was just enough to put a nice coating of dubious footing on top of the ice.  The roads weren't plowed yet, the sidewalks not shoveled (in fact, I had to dodge two sidewalk plows), and all in all it was just hard to move.

Thankful to Hubby for putting the screws to my shoes.  It's the only
reason I was able to run 10 miles yesterday.
I didn't have a route in mind when I first started.  I just pointed myself north and started out.  I only decided which way to turn my feet as I came to forks in the road or intersections.  To say the whole run was crappy is probably a little misleading.  (How many times can I say "crappy" in this post?) I gave myself the chance to turn back at 1.5 miles, 3 miles and 5 miles out, but I didn't take them.  Part of the reason was that the way I had come was so damn slippery that I didn't want to chance it again.  Part of it, though, was that on some level I was enjoying my own misery. Somehow the run suited the dark mood I had brought into the day with me upon wakening, and I probably got what I deserved out of it.

I fought with myself for the first 6.5 miles of the run, though.  I didn't really want to be out there, but I kept cajoling myself along miserable as I was, and as I did I felt the mileage slipping away from me in my head.  My 14 miler became a 12 miler became a 10 miler.  Finally, at 6.5 miles I had a decision point of adding a couple miles to get 12 or to settle for 10.  I think I finally made the smartest decision I had all day.  I opted for the shortest route home, stopping along the way to warm myself at a local YMCA.  Even then, the thought crossed my mind half a dozen times to call my dad and beg for a ride home, but I didn't. In that, at least, I persevered.  As it was, though, I walked most of the last mile and was never so happy to turn onto my street.  
Somehow, despite the misery, I do take away something good from this lesson.  I think this really helped drive home to me the importance of listening to your body.  I now know there is a difference between being a little sore and tired and not feeling like running because of it.  That is worth pushing through.  Even a dark mood shouldn't be a cause for shirking.  However, if you just aren't feeling it.  If you know down in your bones that you are not up for it, then that's the day to take a break.  Nothing good can come from working through that.  It's probably your body telling you to rest.

So, bad runs happen, but if we can learn from them, that's okay.  I'll deal with it.  And, I will be sure not to run again until I really want to do it.  I don't think I will have to wait too long.

Happy Running!

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